Google Home is one of my favorite pieces of tech from last year, but Amazon’s Echo is right up alongside it, and for good reason. The Echo is a fantastic product that paved the way for Google Home, but in some aspects, it’s still a superior product…
One of those aspects has become very evident to me as of late, and it’s just how flexible the Echo is. The Echo works with far more services compared to Google Home (at least for now, Amazon did have quite the head start) and it also offers more settings to customize the experience.
One of those options is the ability to set different wake words. By default, the Echo is woken by the word “Alexa.” What many don’t realize, though, is that you can swap that out for “Amazon” or “Echo.” Recently, Amazon also added “Computer” to that list, to the joy of Star Trek fans everywhere.
Google Home, on the other hand, can only hear “OK Google” or “Hey Google.” Now, that’s not the end of the world — these commands work. However, I have a problem with both.
First of all, Google Home never seems to want to respond to “Hey Google.” Even though this feels like the most natural command to use with Home, it only seems to work about 2/3 of the time, if that often. Of course, this could just be me. I’ve only had a couple other users tell me they’ve had similar issues, but others have no problems with that command.
Simple solution right? Just say “OK Google.” While more reliable, this command also comes with its issues. Most Android smartphones respond to this command in one way or another, whether it’s always listening or not. Devices like Google’s Pixel and former Nexus devices will respond to “OK Google” whether the screen is on or not, which at the very least tends to drain battery life on those phones when you try to interact with Google Home.
It would be fantastic if, like the Echo, Google Home could also use extra wake words which can be preset in the app, especially if they could be completely custom.